The countdown to mass famine has begun, and people you know will starveThe engineered mass famine in America is now under way, with the deep state sabotage of the Colonial Pipeline already causing trucking to suffer fuel shortages across Southeast states, impairing some food deliveries.If this pipeline is not fully restored in the next 72 hours or so, food shelves in some areas will go empty and panic will take hold across the populations there.Meanwhile, Michigan Governor Whitmer is attempting to close another pipeline that serves Northern states, demonstrating that pipeline shutdowns are part of an engineered collapse of America’s industrial infrastructure.If this deliberate shutdown plan continues, many people will face famine this summer as America plunges into chaos and desperation. It’s all by design, of course, as the radical Marxists who stole the election are working their way through a checklist to destroy America from within.
Biden’s First 100 Days100 Days, 100 Mistakes That Have Changed the Face of America
By E. P. Unum
May 13, 2021
HAT TIP: RIP MCINTOSH
If you have been watching the news these days, I am sure that you have noticed the following: ● Inflation has reared its ugly head hitting a high of 4.2% the fastest pace in twelve years. Consumer prices rose 0.8% from March. Interestingly, prices for used cars and trucks jumped 10%. Contributing to this rise was a global microchip shortage that has hurt new car manufacturing, reminiscent of the crisis Japan auto manufacturers had a few years ago when an earthquake curtailed the production of piston rings for autos. It slowed production by almost a month because you can’t build a car without piston rings…even though they cost only $1.50 each. ● There are now 8.1 million job openings in our country, the highest rate ever recorded. Yet employers widely complain they cannot find workers because they are happy to stay on enhanced unemployment benefits implemented by the Biden Administration. If you could stay at home, go to the beach and pay your bills because you are being paid not to work, what would you do? Foolish and economically unsound. ● The unemployment rate in April now is 6.1%, up slightly from March even as more of the economy heats up. ● The Middle East is ablaze as Hammas and the PLO fire rockets into Israel and Israel, defending itself, strikes back with devastating results for the Palestinians. In the face of this, Biden wants to reopen talks with Iran, the arch-enemy of the United States and the largest state sponsor of terror in the world. A cargo ship containing thousands of weapons bound for the Houthi rebels in Yemen and originating in Iran was seized by the American Navy. Yet, Biden wants to engage Iran towards the goal of reinstituting the Iran Nuclear Agreement which Obama so proudly hailed. Why? I raise these points and observations to serve as an introduction to some far more important observations that do not bode well for our nation. With each passing day, I shudder at the weakness of our President and his inability to be proactive rather than reactive. But I am equally fearful of the cadre of people with whom he surrounds himself. They lack business acumen and a sound foundation in economics and finance. They are profoundly lacking in leadership and moral principles and guideposts. Virtually none of them have ever run or managed a business enterprise nor offer any particular expertise in negotiating complex multi-faceted international agreements. Taken as a whole, they contribute little to moving America forward in the world we live in today. There is no clearer illustration of this than taking a perspective on the first 100 days of the Biden Administration and the executive actions President Biden and his administration have enacted. Few of which have made a positive contribution to America or benefitted Americans. These are delineated in the list of Biden’s First 100 Days and how his actions have changed the face of our country. The conclusion I have drawn is simply this is what you end up with when you build an organization around you made up of people who lack experience, a sense, and perspective of history and are fundamentally not the brightest or the best we have to offer. But beyond this admittedly harsh but, I believe accurate assessment is something more pernicious and detrimental to the America we know and love. That potentially devastating and corrosive thing is our preoccupation with Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the cancel culture phenomenon that has engulfed our country. Both are concepts that owe their origins to Marxist and Communist Ideology. Both are cancers on American democracy, meritocracy, due process, and freedom of speech. And, both are abject failures whenever or wherever they have been tried in the world. CRT, now taught in some elementary and high schools as well as colleges and universities would have you believe that America is a racist country founded on racist principles. Our children, thanks to the progressive liberal left, is creating via CRT an education system that teaches children to hate people who are white fomenting anger and class warfare. For a President of the United States to allow this to happen is disgraceful. For people working in his administration to tolerate and push it on all of us is downright sinful. Yet, here we are. So, as you reflect on these points, I ask that you review President Biden’s First 100 Days and the 100 major errors, mistakes, and expressions associated with this period. Then ask yourselves this one simple question: How is any of this helpful to our country and to Americans. I come up empty on this. How about you? President Biden’s First 100 Days-Warts and All 1. Repealing the Mexico City Policy, forcing taxpayers to subsidize abortions overseas. How does a self-proclaimed practicing Roman Catholic take such unilateral unforced action? 2. Reversing Trump Administration pro-life rules that prevented tax dollars from going to pro-abortion entities like Planned Parenthood. 3. Canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, costing thousands of jobs and immediately increasing the cost of oil from Alberta, CA from $10 a barrel to $36 per barrel as it must be delivered by truck or rail…in a pandemic when there is a shortage of truckers. Wonder who benefitted from this unilateral action? Certainly not America. With the stroke of his pen, this action and others wiped away decades of striving for energy independence achieved under Trump. 4. Canceling new oil and gas leases, limiting future energy supplies. See # 3 above. Killing Trump’s Energy Independence which we achieved for the first time in our nation’s history. 5. Shutting down the 1776 Commission on patriotic education in our public schools. At the same time, extolling Critical Race Theory as a curriculum for elementary and high schools. CRT is a Marxist Communist philosophy and essentially is a cancer on American democracy, meritocracy, due process, and freedom of speech. It erases history, mis-educates youth, empowers extremism, and creates a cancel culture mentality. It destroys nations. For examples of this look at Cuba, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Venezuela, Argentina,…the list is long and undistinguished. For an American President to get behind such garbage suggests to me that he is ill-suited to lead our great people. 6. Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord when there is no consensus that climate change poses an immediate “existential” threat. The science is very much unsettled on this issue, although the radical left will never admit to it. 7. Rejoining the World Health Organization who is controlled by China. 8. Kowtowing to communist China by banning the phrase “China virus.” 9. Creating a crisis at the southern border leading to a record number of illegal aliens entering the country.(178,622 in April which includes 17,000 unaccompanied minors; this followed 173,000 in March with 12,000 unaccompanied minors) then echoing that “everything is under control; there is no crisis on the border” 10. Stopping construction of the border wall at a cost of $6 million a day, not to mention wasting the millions of dollars in materials laying on the ground collecting dust. 11. Preventing most arrests and deportations of criminal illegal aliens. 12. Ending Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” order for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. 13. Allowing border detention facilities to operate at 1,500% capacity during the pandemic. 14. Preventing the media from seeing the horrific conditions at migrant border facilities. 15. Ending Trump’s travel ban on nations known to be hotbeds of terrorism. 16. Ordering the Census to include illegal aliens in congressional reapportionment. 17. Repealing Trump’s public charge rule preventing immigrants from becoming a burden on public welfare services. 18. Reinstating Obama’s catch and release program for illegal aliens crossing the border. 19. Releasing illegal aliens into the country without COVID tests. What could go wrong? 20. Releasing illegal aliens into the country without court dates. What could go wrong? 21. Flying illegal aliens to the Canadian border for faster processing at a cost to U.S. Taxpayers. 22. Paying nearly $90 million to house illegal migrants in hotels. 23. Proposing a massive amnesty bill that does not require the use of the E-Verify program. 24. Allowing 900,000 deported aliens to return to America. 25. Repealing Trump’s executive order limiting legal immigration during the pandemic. 26. Proposing a COVID vaccination plan that prioritized illegal aliens. 27. Reopening child detention facilities that Kamala Harris vowed to close. 28. Allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military, including paying for sex-change surgeries. Let that one sink in. 29. Signing an executive order including “gender identity” in the enforcement of civil rights laws. What the hell does that mean? 30. Ordering the State Department to make LGBTQI issues a foreign policy priority and giving priority to LGBTQI refugees. What could possibly go wrong? 31. Supporting the Equality Act, which would severely limit religious liberty. 32. Creating a White House Office on Gender Policy. Is this needed? 33. Redefining Title IX and
From time to time, I’ll try to update our contemporary American vocabulary.
Diversity/DiverseThis noun and its adjective have lost all currency. Ostensibly, diversity assumes that variety, in general, is better than uniformity. In some cases, perhaps it is, although the Japanese, for example, might argue their homogenous society avoids many of the problems in contemporary America. And, after all, our original motto of uniting states into the union was e Pluribus Unum, not ex uno plures. “Diverse” has become a very narrowly defined adjective. It means solely different from white, male, Christian, and heterosexual—such as Latinos, blacks, women in general, Muslims or Buddhists, and transgendered and homosexuals. In other words, the “diverse” community comprises about 67-70 percent of America; the non-diverse, and supposedly dominant enemy of diversity, is only about 30-33 percent of the population. Under no circumstances can diversity imply hopes for political heterodoxy in hiring or admissions. Instead, political diversity is supposed to be as incendiary as racial diversity is calming. Privilege/White PrivilegeThis buzzword implies that 90 percent of citizens at the Founding were of Northern European (e.g., English, Scots-Irish) descent and rigged the country to favor their interests in perpetuity against a series of many different immigrants (Irish, Catholics, Jews, Eastern Europeans, Asians, etc.) as well as Native Americans and blacks. The word is data-free and cannot withstand cross-examination that might suggest that lots of groups (e.g., Punjabis, Koreans, Japanese, etc.), who are markedly different in appearance and religion from the founding norms, enjoy a great deal of wealth, status, and influence. Usually, elite whites and minorities with privilege use the term “privileged” to castigate middle class and poor whites without it (e. g, “dregs,” “deplorables,” “Neanderthals,” “clingers,” “chumps,” etc.) As a rule of thumb, those who accuse others of having “privilege” or even “white privilege,” enjoy it, or something comparable to it, themselves. Recently the adjective “unearned” has been attached. But its use is usually confined to scripted and public self-serving apologies, such as the sort that deans, provosts, and college presidents offer—as in “I have been the beneficiary of unearned privilege….” Such usage is meant to deflect the incoming fire of woke mobs and hysterias to someone else, through the use of preemptive and empty confessionals that do not entail any sacrifice or concrete concessions, or proof of contrition. Racism/RacistThe inflation and promiscuity in the use of these once critical nouns and adjectives render them now empty and without meaning. If everyone and everything is racist, then nothing is. Increasingly, calling a person a “racist” is good proof that he is not, but that the accuser likely is. Like “Shut up!” or ‘F—k you!”, “Racist!” is simply an interjection used to end abruptly all conversation. It is as common and empty as the introductory adverb, “Well…,” or the pause word “uh.” Soon we may see people use the word in a similar manner, “Racist, how are things going?” and “Racist, now let’s turn to another subject.” Or,“ hmmm, racist, racist, racist, hmmm, as I was saying….” “Underserved” or “Marginalized” CommunityThese adjectives should suggest the pathologies of a geographical area or particular group are not an individual’s or a community’s fault—but largely to be blamed on society at large. Mostly they are euphemisms for “crime-ridden” or “dangerous.” The charge of “underserved” or “marginalized” is frequently lodged but rarely substantiated or documented. Ethnic or minority groups, who perform better on college entrance tests or have higher per capita incomes than do the majority of Americans, or lower crime rates, are rarely if ever termed “overserved” or “de-marginalized.”
The Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (often referenced by its Latin title, Gaudium et Spes) is typically regarded as the most “progressive” of the 16 documents of Vatican II: the conciliar text that bespoke a new Catholic embrace of modernity while aligning the Church with liberal democratic political forces throughout the world.
Like every other conciliar document, however, the Pastoral Constitution only comes into clear focus when it’s read through the prism of the council’s two most authoritative texts, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) and the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium). Dei Verbum taught that God really does speak to humanity in history, and that the revelation of God’s intention for humanity, definitively manifest in Jesus Christ, is binding for all time. Lumen Gentium taught that the Church is a “sacrament” or “sign and instrument. . . . of communion with God and unity among all men.” The Church embodies that by heeding the Great Commission: by proclaiming and living the gospel of Jesus Christ, thus bringing the truth about God and us to the whole world.
That, according to the two fundamental documents of Vatican II, is the best thing the Church can do for the modern world: evangelize it. Everything else flows from that.
There were to be no exceptions to the scope of the Church’s evangelization. So the council taught that public life, including the tangled world of politics, was a field to be evangelized and thereby revitalized with the leaven of Christian truth. That meant, in the main, lay Catholics working in the public space to promote the dignity of the human person and the common good.
Gaudium et Spes had a lot to say about the Christian responsibility to contribute to the common good, about which it took a broad view: by the “common good,” Vatican II meant not just a prosperous economy, environmental protections, proper health care, and the legal protection of basic human rights, but the ongoing pursuit of a social order characterized by truth, justice, virtue, solidarity, and mutual responsibility. Meeting that responsibility to advance the common good, the council taught, required Catholics to lead coherent lives. The Pastoral Constitution therefore reminded the people of the Church that “it is a mistake to think that, because we have here no lasting city, but seek the city which is to come, we are entitled to shirk our earthly responsibilities.” There could be no such shirking, for “by our faith, we are bound all the more to fulfill these responsibilities according to the vocation of each.”
Thus life in politics, which the council described as a “difficult yet noble art,” ought to be lived as a vocation by Catholics. And there could be no bifurcation in living out that vocation, or indeed any other. “One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives.” The prophets of the Old Testament had “vehemently denounced this scandal,” Gaudium et Spes noted, as did Christ himself, who “with greater force threatened it with severe punishment.” There could be no “pernicious opposition” between a Catholic’s “professional and social activity,” on the one hand, and his or her “religious life,” on the other.
Coherently Catholic public officials, whose faith illuminates the truths that make for human flourishing and who integrate those truths into their political lives, are the Catholics who best reflect the Church’s intention to “establish and consolidate the human community according to the law of God.” Catholics who promote or who refuse to take effective action against grave offenses against human dignity (among which Gaudium et Spes listed abortion, euthanasia, and violations of the human person through mutilation) not only fail to contribute to the common good while doing severe damage to society; they also declare themselves incoherent Catholics, who are, objectively, not in full communion with the Church.
This is the challenge that the most progressive document of the Second Vatican Council puts today before the president of the United States, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle, and the many other public officials who persist in living a “pernicious opposition” between their “professional activity” and their “religious life.” It is not a partisan challenge. It is not a traditionalist challenge. It is not a politicized challenge. It is Vatican II’s challenge.
Their fellow Catholics among the laity have an obligation to bring this challenge of coherence to the attention of these brethren in Christ. So do their pastors.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.
On Sun, May 9, 2021 at 7:02 PM shawn Flanagan <email@example.com> wrote: Dear All, We are meeting on Monday at 6pm at Silverado! When I was coaching the Islanders in cross country, if late in a race things were going right, I would yell at the kids as they ran by on the course: “We are Winning, Just Finish it and We will Win!!!!”. THAT IS WHERE WE ARE AT!!!! Friday late afternoon the House passed SB7 for the second time, after the Senate passage of this Omnibus Election Integrity bill this is huge. There are still some steps left but the problematic ones are over!!!! Will give a complete run down at the meeting on Monday-but it is all good! Ida and Julie will each talk about new methods we can use to lobby in Austin. There are still single issue election integrity bills going forward to support. We are planning on a small group going up to Austin this week and a larger group next week when we want to meet with our local Reps and Senator. The group this week will meet on specifics with the SB7 Conference Committee and the following week to establish as positive, as possible, relationships with those that represent us in Austin. We have two events coming up. This Thursday we are presenting about EIP at the Corpus Christi Tea Party Patriots meeting at 6pm at the BBQ Man on I-37. On Wednesday 26 May at 6:30pm we are co-hosting with the Annaville Baptist Church a Christian Values in the Public Forum event. There are three topics-Election Integrity, Race relations, and The purpose of Public Education. There will be two speakers on each subject. First a secular speaker on the differing approaches to each subject with a preferred policy and a religious speaker explaining how the preferred policy aligns with Christian, Biblical values. It will end with asking the audience to get involved in putting their Christian principles to work-like joining the EIP! We hope this is the start of a series of forums at various churches. See you Monday, Shawn
MAY 12, 2021BY DANIEL J. MAHONEYSohrab Ahmari’s new book enlightens in many respects, while falling short before the tribunal of moral and political prudence. Still, it succeeds admirably in making the case for “the wisdom of tradition” as the one thing most needful today.
Sohrab Ahmari is undoubtedly right that we live in “an age of chaos” that desperately needs to recover—or, perhaps for the majority of our contemporaries, to “discover” for the first time—what he calls “the wisdom of tradition.” His new book, The Unbroken Thread, is a most welcome invitation to take both wisdom and tradition seriously again, to see in tradition an indispensable vehicle for conveying and sustaining wisdom about the things that truly matter. In that regard, Ahmari’s very fine book is profoundly countercultural.
It is not a flawless book. Sometimes the argument leans too far toward mere traditionalism, thereby risking the subordination of wisdom to a somewhat romanticized account of tradition. Still, its fundamental claim is both unobjectionable and liberating:
the very modes of life and thinking that strike most people in the West as antiquated or “limiting” can liberate us, while the Western dream of autonomy and choice without limits, is, in fact, a prison; that the quest to define ourselves on our own is a kind of El Dorado, driving to madness the many who seek after it; that for our best, highest selves to soar, other parts of us must be tied down, enclosed, limited, bound.
Ahmari’s book entails, above all, a thoughtful and eloquent plea for humanizing limits. In making his case, he assumes “the role of the critic, the interrogator of modern certainties.” He thus combines an essentially interrogative approach with a deep intuition that “our contemporary philosophy might be wrong in crucial respects—that we may have too hastily thrown away the insights of traditional thought and too eagerly encouraged the desire for total human mastery.” In this respect, despite some missteps along the way, Ahmari’s argument succeeds brilliantly.
A Gift to the Next Generation
Ahmari’s lucid, measured but passionate prose is driven by a profoundly existential concern: that his infant son Maximilian (“Max”), named for the Catholic saint and martyr Maximilian Kolbe, who freely took the place of a prisoner (and head of a family) in a Nazi death camp in Poland, will grow up in a country and culture with few if any “substantive ideals.” This book is thus a gift to the next generation, in the concrete form of Ahmari’s cherished son. Its purpose is to remind them of the need to cultivate the precious gift that is the human soul.
That task demands openness to “the fundamental dilemmas of what it means to be fully human,” and an accompanying willingness to respond to the call of sacrifice and self-restraint, even to the requirements of authentic heroism and sanctity so nobly represented by the “other” Maximilian, St. Maximilian Kolbe. Instead of the false allure of unlimited “progress,” which “can’t fulfill our soul yearnings or satisfy our urge to put ourselves right with the sacred,” Ahmari recommends a dialectical return to the “wisdom of tradition” through a thoughtful and engaging challenge to the unexamined dogmas at the heart of radically progressivist or modernist thought.
With C.S. Lewis (whose prose and fictional writings Ahmari explores with insight and gusto), Ahmari rejects the “chronological snobbery” that dismisses “good ideas from the past merely because they were from the past.” He demonstrates that we have forgotten many humanizing answers precisely because of a “false sense of superiority” that gets in the way of confronting the truly enduring questions. A “reflexive hostility to tradition” thus leads to an equally reflexive dismissal of the hard-won spiritual and philosophical wisdom passed on by our forebears. The result is a terrible diminution of the human mind and heart.
The questions Ahmari asks are, for the most part, just the right questions, and the thinkers he explores (with one notable exception) are indeed notable and noble purveyors of wisdom and spiritual insight. At the beginning of the book, he tells us, with all due modesty, that he is “neither a philosopher nor a theologian” but rather “a journalist and story teller.” Accordingly, the bulk of the book is “devoted to telling the stories of great ideas and of the men and women who brought them forth, and highlighting the lessons we can take from each of them.” Our author claims no “scholarly originality.” But the stories are splendidly told and are informed by impressive learning. Ahmari is no dilettante. His is a book of “haute vulgarisation” (as the French say) in the very best sense of the phrase.
Essential Questions, Compelling Portraits
In a relatively compact review essay, I can only highlight a few of the questions and portraits that Ahmari deftly draws and that struck this reviewer as worthy of further commentary. To begin with, Ahmari’s treatment of C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy, the fictional or literary version of his critique of scientism and relativism in The Abolition of Man (1946), is simply superb. As Ahmari notes, C.S. Lewis’s writings demonstrate the irrationality of the idea that “sheer accumulation of facts and technique can allow us to take moral shortcuts.” There can be no moral or civilizational clarity if we reject right reason, first principles, or the moral law, for they are the indispensable foundation for everything that follows.
Although Ahmari’s treatment of Thomas Aquinas and the question “Is God Reasonable?” is unoriginal, it helpfully distinguishes the Christian rationalism of St. Thomas from Averroes’s notion of distinct truths available only to philosophers, who have no need of revealed truth. The chapter also demonstrates that even Thomas’s “coldly rationalistic” five proofs for the existence of God provide the warm hope that human beings are indeed “wanted” and “belong.” We human beings do not live in a universe without purpose or meaning, Thomas insists. This assurance is deepened by a more robust faith in the providence of a loving God, and in the sacrifice and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A very suggestive chapter on Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Polish-Lithuanian rabbi who barely escaped Nazi despotism and the murderous Holocaust, highlights the holiness of the Sabbath. To instrumentalize the sacred day of rest and worship is, according to Heschel, to allow “the realm of space” to win out over the “realm of time,” a realm that ultimately gives us access to Eternity. Already in Heschel’s time (he died in New York in December 1972), Americans were beginning to banish the Sabbath, the Lord’s Day, “in the name of ‘choice,’” both consumer and recreational. Heschel’s lesson, as summarized by Ahmari, remains both challenging and vitally true: “a world without the Sabbath is a world without soul.” In its simplicity, this lesson invites us to radically rethink our misplaced spiritual priorities.
An odd, if interesting, chapter, deals with Andrea Dworkin, the American radical feminist, who identified human sexuality with the various “circles of hell.’” A radical and astute critic of the identification of sex and pornography with “banal fun,” she eventually identified “intercourse” per se with cruelty, exploitation, and injustice. Ahmari provisionally, and unpersuasively, calls her a “traditionalist,” in no small part because she is an unwavering critic of “lust.” But in the end, Dworkin was a lost soul, a nihilist and misanthrope who rejected “natural law and other regulations as means for promoting the unlimited ‘power of men over women’” as just one more lamentable effort to prop up the patriarchy. She is the only figure in the book who is not a model to follow. But the chapter informs and provokes, and that is all to the good.
Ahmari’s compelling final chapter, provocatively called “What’s Good about Death?’ capably harnesses the arguments of the Roman Stoic Seneca against “transhumanists” who want to indefinitely expand human life at the service of this-wordly immortality. In this awful dispensation, nothing would be new. The human soul would lose all sense of purpose and would be overwhelmed by self-disgust. In decisive respects, Seneca was right when he argued “that it’s a great gift of Nature that we must die.” If endless self-preservation becomes the great desideratum, he argued, we might be all too willing to betray a friend to live longer, or hand over our children “for lechery—just to see the next dawn.” We would lose our souls and betray our consciences. As Ahmari reminds us, we must aim to live well, not indefinitely.
Newman, Conscience, and “Liberalism in Religion”
My favorite chapter is dedicated to Cardinal John Henry Newman and his defense and articulation of the true human and Christian meaning of conscience. No one in the great tradition has treated conscience so amply and compellingly as Newman, perhaps because he was obliged to respond to counterfeit claims in the mid-to-late nineteenth century made in the name of conscience.
In his Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864), Newman wrote with exceptional grace and depth about the central role of conscience in the life of the soul: “What is a higher guide for us in speculation and in practice than that conscience of right and wrong, of truth and falsehood, those sentiments of what is decorous, consistent, and noble, which our Creator has made part of our original nature?” These soaring words get to the heart of the truth about the moral constitution of human beings. Later, in his superb Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (1875), Newman defended the authentic Catholic teaching of conscience (which is the teaching of natural law, too) against attacks from Prime Minister William Gladstone. Gladstone mistakenly claimed that Catholics, loyal to allegedly illiberal popes, could not honor civil liberties, free inquiry, and moral conscience. With the same blessed powers of articulation, Newman defended “the rule of ethical truth, the standard of right and wrong, a sovereign irreversible, absolute authority in the presence of man and Angels” against that counterfeit substitute for authentic conscience called subjectivism and “the right of self-will.”
Ahmari lays all this out accurately and precisely. But he goes too far when he confuses Newman’s critique of “liberalism in religion” with liberalism tout court. A regime of civil and political liberty, informed by right reason and true conscience, is not subjected to Newman’s censure and ire. This is a distinction Ahmari needs to recognize, and the failure to do so is a weakness of the book.
Where Ahmari Goes Awry
Ahmari’s chapter on the Russian writer and Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn raises the indispensable question “What is Freedom For?” The answer Ahmari presents exemplifies both the strengths and the weaknesses of the book as a whole.
Ahmari helpfully highlights essential themes of Solzhenitsyn’s great and controversial Harvard Address of June 8, 1978: the distinction between the rule of law and soul-numbing legalism; the decline of civic courage in societies engrossed in the frenetic pursuit of material well-being; and most importantly, the inability of atheistic “rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy” to sustain the promise of human liberty and dignity.
Unfortunately, like most commentators on the Harvard address, Ahmari misses Solzhenitsyn’s final call for us to move “up from modernity” by finding true balance in the human soul and the human world. Underlying Solzhenitsyn’s alleged jeremiad at Harvard is a truly novel call for moderation and voluntary self-limitation. In his view, we must resist not only the claim that man is the highest thing in the universe but also the tyranny of the spiritual, which tends to forget the centrality of human freedom to a life well lived. Ahmari hardly acknowledges such tyranny as a human possibility.
While Ahmari is wonderfully open to the wisdom of the medieval world, he doesn’t seem to appreciate that the Middle Ages suffered from generally bad governance. Not despotism, to be sure, but an inability to settle the longstanding conflict between pope and emperor, the temporal and spiritual realms. Until relatively recent times, the papal states themselves were among the most poorly governed states in the whole of Europe. On this side of the Atlantic, the founding fathers of the American republic did not advocate a soulless “procedural republic,” as Ahmari claims, even if so many academics of a certain cast insist they did. Our old republic has some moral resources that we would be imprudent and ungrateful to reject. While people of faith and right reason should be unhesitating in opposition to “the poison of subjectivism” (C.S. Lewis) and “the dictatorship of relativism” (Pope Benedict XVI), we cannot make the direct promotion of the “Highest Good,” as Ahmari claims, the explicit goal of the temporal or political realm. That is to succumb to the politics of perfection.
If we are to avoid either religious or secularist fanaticism and fundamentalism, we must live with an unnerving indetermination regarding the relationship between truth and liberty, while firmly resisting the advancing forces of moral nihilism. This excellent book enlightens in so many respects while falling short, in my judgment, before the tribunal of moral and political prudence. Still, it succeeds admirably in making the case for “the wisdom of tradition” as the one thing most needful today.
Join us May 13th at 7 PM for a webinar with Sohrab Ahmari on his new book. Sign up here.
Daniel J. Mahoney holds the Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship at Assumption College and is 2020-2021 Garwood Visiting Fellow, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He has written extensively on statesmanship, religion and po… READ MORE
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Dear Rene Henry,Most of us are familiar with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s criticisms of the Soviet Union, but few have grappled with his worries about the West. As Sohrab Ahmari summarizes them, “could it be [Solzhenitsyn asks] that the liberal West, having reduced freedom to a bare legalism and the absence of natural and traditional barriers, [is] also unfree, only in a different way?”
We hope you can join us this evening for a webinar attempting to answer this question with Sohrab Ahmari and R. J. Snell. The webinar will run from 7:00 PM to 8:00 EST and will include a question and answer period.Click here to register for the webinar. We hope you’ll join us! All are invited. What: Webinar with Sohrab AhmariWhen: 7:00 pm, Thursday, May 13th, 2021Where: Zoom. Register Here All the best, The Public Discourse Team
President Biden will resume work on President Trump’s border wall. The Biden administration would retrieve the equipment and materials that had been abandoned at the US-Mexico border and, at the request of Republican governors, will use them to build the barrier that Trump supporters had hoped for.
The Army Corps of Engineers has reported to Fox News that work on a 13.4-mile stretch of the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley will resume.
During a recent visit to the border, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said that the conditions were “a dereliction of duty. It is deliberate. It is endangering the people of my home state of Texas and endangering people all across the country. It is unacceptable. It is inhumane. It is wrong.”
Terrorists gained access to holes in the wall that were left when the government stopped building. Materials and vehicles were left littering sections of the border.
The Catholic Church regards racism to be “intrinsically evil” and supports policies to check it. It must be noted, however, that today there is no shortage of educators, reporters, activists, and lawmakers who claim to oppose racism while harboring an agenda that sometimes promotes it. They do so mostly for ideological reasons, though those in the diversity and grievance industry also profit from it monetarily. Critical race theory, which is an inherently racist prescription—it judges people on the basis of their skin color, not their individual traits—is a textbook example of promoting racism in the name of fighting it. In my lifetime, never have non-whites been treated more fairly than they are today, yet there is an avalanche of news stories that say just the opposite. While objective conditions have definitely improved, the perception that we are a racist nation is widespread. How can this be? When Senator Tim Scott, an African American, recently said that “America is not a racist country,” he was ridiculed, maligned, and insulted. Why the anger? Because he challenged, to great effect, the raging narrative in elite quarters that America is irredeemably racist. Vice President Kamala Harris was asked to comment on what Scott said. “No, I don’t think America is a racist country,” she said, but we need to “speak truth about the history of racism.” Previously, she went further than that when she declared, “America has a long history of systemic racism.” President Biden is concerned about racism as well, claiming that “white supremacists” constitute the “most lethal terrorist threat.” He took his cues from the FBI which is preoccupied with white supremacists. Ask most Americans who qualifies as a white supremacist and the likely answer is someone who belongs to the Ku Klux Klan. But the Klan has actually been in decline. So who are these people who pose the “most lethal terrorist threat”? The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is the go-to site that journalists use to access information about white supremacy and hate crimes. It is a left-wing activist organization that claims to monitor such offenses. Last month it sounded very much like President Biden when its president and CEO, Margaret Huang, said, “We’re facing a crisis of far-right extremism and deep threats to our democracy.” From whom? She identified the mob storming the Capitol in January as being “led by white supremacists and other far-right extremists.” Huang provided no evidence to support her remarks; she simply asserted that white supremacists were the principal culprits. It apparently never occurred to her that these men and women were mostly angry pro-Trump supporters who felt disabused by electoral politics and political correctness, concerns that have nothing to do with feelings of racial superiority. Veterans and former police officers appear to have been overrepresented. If they are white supremacists, we need to see the empirical evidence. In fact, the SPLC does a lousy job defining who these white supremacists are. Its lengthy report, “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2020,” says an awful lot about white supremacists but is noticeably short on identifying exactly who they are. For example, it says they track “extremist flyers,” reporting that they found 4,900 “flyering incidents.” The worst offenders, it said, were those who promoted the “white nationalist ideology,” a train of thought it left undefined. It did not say who these white nationalists were or whether they were responsible for any violence. It did say that the Klan is no longer “a significant generator of white supremacist terror,” largely because it “saw its count dwindle to 25 groups in 2020.” So who are the new Klansmen? SPLC has racism on the brain. In its report, it expresses dismay over the fact that “only 38 percent of respondents” in a survey believed that “systemic racism” accounts for a disparity in health outcomes between whites and non-whites, “even as COVID-19 ravages communities of color.” It did not say whether white supremacists were to blame for this condition, but it did say that it was unnerved to learn that the majority of Americans thought that Black Lives Matter (BLM) violence in 2020 was a bigger problem than police violence against blacks. With good reason: BLM killed 25 people, assaulted the police, burned down entire neighborhoods, and engaged in widespread looting. In 2019, police shot and killed 999 people: 452 were white and 252 were black; 26 of the whites and 12 of the blacks were unarmed. For the record, SPLC regards as “far right” extremists anyone who thinks that boys who “transition” to girls should not be allowed to compete against girls in sports and shower with them. Perhaps they are the new Klansmen. Real racism and extremism, as the Catholic Church understands it, must be opposed and defeated. It does not help this noble cause when prominent Americans and non-profit organizations are bent on finding racism under every rock.
Did Problematic Ideas within Franciscan Theology possibly help bring about Francis’s Amoris Laetitia?
The Washington Post called Francis “A Franciscan Jesuit for pope.”
Did certain problematic ideas within Franciscan theology such as “voluntarism” (“emphasis on will over intellect”) help bring about the loss of natural law and help bring about Francis’s Amoris Laetitia?
Thomist Edward Feser’s book, The Last Superstition,on pages 167, 168, and 170 seems to say that the Franciscan theologians John Duns Scotus’s and William of Ockham’s “tendency toward voluntarism” may have helped bring about the present denial of natural law and ethics:
– “John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) and William of Ockham (c. 1287-1347), who, though scholastics, rejected Aquinas’s synthesis of Aristotelianism and Christian theology. Their reasons for doing so anticipate certain key themes of modern philosophy . . . [these ideas] led to the undoing of the Scholastic tradition, which had reached its apex in Aquinas’s thought.”
– “Both Scotus and Ockham denied the possibility of the sort of knowledge of God Aquinas claimed could be had through reason…”
– “The motivation for Scotus’s skepticism was an excessive emphasis (as Thomists see it) on God’s will over His intellect. Aquinas, in Scotus’s estimation, makes God and His actions too comprehensible, too rational, too open to our puny philosophical investigations. So radically free is God’s will, in Scotus’s view, that we simply cannot deduce from the natural order either His intentions or any necessary features of the things He created, since He might have created them in any number of ways, as His inscrutable will directed.”
– “Meanwhile, Scotus’s and Ockham’s tendency toward voluntarism (i.e. their emphasis on will over intellect), and the related idea that morality derives from arbitrary divine commands, became secularized in the notion that all law rests ultimately on the sheer will of a sovereign, rather than in a rationally ascertainable natural order. Combine these themes and you are not far from Thomas Hobbes’s view that man’s “natural” condition is to be at war with his fellowman, and that this unhappy situation can be remedied only by agreeing to submit to the will of an absolute ruler.”
Moreover, the pro-Amoris Laetitia website Where Peter Is apparently supports certain ideas of Scotus:
“Duns Scotus and his Franciscan school of theology successfully defended the Absolute Primacy of Christ. God did not send His Son into the world as a consequence of sin but “by reason of His very great love”. (Eph. 2:4)” [https://wherepeteris.com/who-art-thou-o-immaculata/]
The independent scholar James Larson explained to me in an email exchange the problem with this and other ideas of Scotus:
I am very far from being an expert on Scotus, and have no desire to be so. But I would offer the following: Employing “univocity” in relation to any terms used of both God and His creation necessarily terminates in some type of pantheistic-gnostic mush. Strictly speaking God is the only Being, in the sense of possessing Being of Himself. It is true that, in relation to created things, we do distinguish the category of substantial being from all the categories of accidental being by saying that it is something suited to exist “in itself”. But this is a definition necessary to distinguish the category of relative, created, substance from accidens, which are suited to exist only as inhering in substance. Without understanding the principle of analogy between all created things and God, we necessarily end up confusing the Thomistic concept of creative “participation” in being with the idea that creative things are somehow “part” of God. In other words, we destroy Catholic ontology (and all that is contained in the concept creation ex nihilo), and ultimately everything which is intimately connected to this ontology. Even sanctifying grace, and the entire concept of possessing the life of God in our souls, must be considered a created gift of God. In regard to the so-called Franciscan doctrine which is usually now termed the “Absolute Primacy of Christ“. St. Thomas, while certainly being clear that the question has not been given final determination by the Church, yet declares his tentative opposition to this notion because Holy Scripture never offers any other reason for Christ’s Incarnation other than that supreme Divine Love which “bends over” towards man in order to merit our redemption from sin. Christ Himself says, “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). To attempt to assert therefore that through the proposed doctrine of “Absolute Primacy of Christ”(the notion that Incarnation would have occurred even without sin) they somehow possess a greater and deeper understanding of the primacy of Christ and the greatness of His love is indeed a “walking on thin ice”.It smacks ultimately of placing some sort of “necessity” in God in relation to His creation. Interestingly enough, Mary of Agreda (herself a Franciscan Conception), in the City of God, claims endorsement of this Franciscan theory as a private revelation from Christ (Vol. I, p.77). But even more interesting, she places “necessity” in God in relation to creation. Thus, she writes: “The Majesty of God, beholding the nature of his infinite perfection, their virtue and efficacy operating with magnificence, saw that it was just and most proper, and, as it were, , a necessity, to communicate Himself, and to follow the inclination of imparting and exercising his liberality and mercy, by distributing outside of Himself with magnificence, the plenitude of the infinite treasures, contained in the Divinity. For, being Infinite in all things, it is much more natural, that He communicate gifts and graces, than that fire should ascend, or the stone should gravitate toward its center, or that the sun should diffuse light.” (ibid. p. 52) So much for the total gratuitousness and freedom of God in relation to all of His gifts to man. You might also be interested in reading my two-part fictional work The Mind of Antichrist, which is here: http://rosarytotheinterior.com/the-mind-of-antichrist/That said, I want to apologize for possibly not being clear above that I respect Scotus who is a blessed and a great theologian despite the above problematic ideas. But, I think as the Church (Pope Leo XIII and other popes) teaches that St.Thomas is the most important Doctor of the the Church. On the other hand, Scotus paved the way for the Immaculate Conception dogma of the Church and showed Thomas can be wrong in some issues. Ockham is another story. He is a disaster as the great Thomist Feser shows: Moreover, even such morality as Ockham leaves us with is radically transformed. As Pinckaers argues, in the absence of any conception of an end toward which the will is naturally directed, the focus of moral reflection tends to turn toward the individual act, isolated from considerations about the overall character of the moral agent or the way the action might promote or impede the agent’s flourishing or happiness. When coupled with Ockham’s grounding of morality in arbitrary divine commands, moral theory was thus bound to come to emphasize law as such rather than the realization of a good defined in terms of our natural end, and obligation as such rather than the virtues which facilitate our realization of that good. In short, just as Ockhamism, when shorn of its theological commitments, prefigures Hume in metaphysics, so too does it prefigure Kant – that “catastrophic spider” – in ethics.And that is only the beginning. As Michael Allen Gillespie argues in his recent book The Theological Origins of Modernity, the Renaissance humanists’ revolution in culture, Luther’s revolution in theology, Descartes’ revolution in philosophy, and Hobbes’s revolution in politics also have their roots in Ockhamism. With the humanists this was manifested in their emphasis on man as an individual, willing being rather than as a rational animal. In Luther’s case, the prospect of judgment by the terrifying God of nominalism and voluntarism – an omnipotent and capricious will, ungoverned by any rational principle – was cause for despair. Since reason is incapable of fathoming this God and good works incapable of appeasing Him, faith alone could be Luther’s refuge. With Descartes, the God of nominalism and voluntarism opened the door to a radical doubt in which even the propositions of mathematics – the truth of which was in Descartes’ view subject to God’s will no less than the contingent truths of experience – were in principle uncertain. And we see the moral and political implications of nominalism in the amoral, self-interested individuals of Hobbes’s so-called “state of nature,” and in the fearsome absolutist monarch of his Leviathan, whose relationship to his subjects parallels that of the nominalist God to the universe. [http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/razor-boy.html?m=1] Stop for a moment of silence, ask Jesus Christ what He want you to do next. Make this a practice. By doing this you are doing more good than reading anything here or anywhere else on the Internet
– Doctor of the Church St. Francis de Sales totally confirmed beyond any doubt the possibility of a heretical pope and what must be done by the Church in such a situation:
“[T]he Pope… WHEN he is EXPLICITLY a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church MUST either deprive him, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See.” (The Catholic Controversy, by St. Francis de Sales, Pages 305-306)